This is a video I made from “26 January” a poem from Dave Bonta’s excellent Ice Mountain: An Elegy. Dave releases his poetry under a creative commons license, which makes this sort of thing possible. I plan to review the book (and several) others in some future posts–more on that later.
I stumbled on this footage on the ESA/Hubble site while working on Aurora is the effort, and it immediately made me think of Ice Mountain, which I then went back and reread. The ice age reference in the last lines and the fact that “26 January” is one of the more linear poems seemed like a fit for the 1-shot video I imagined.
The footage is an artist’s conception of Pluto, an icy world, apparently lifeless, that resonated for me with the sense of loss and environmental themes that undergird much of Ice Mountain.
For the music, I wanted something that sounded sharp (not musically sharp but sharp as in pointy like icicles) and crystalline with delayed echoes. I decided to try to do the audio myself, so I used my guitar and garage band with some pedal and amp sims that gave me the sound I wanted and then tried to play along with the video I had made. This was my first time trying to score live, and I did multiple takes until I felt it was right. Afterwards, I mixed two of the takes together until it sounded the way I imagined it. I really liked this aspect of it, and plan to do more in the future.
Do check out the other Ice Mountain-related videos on Dave’s site by Marie Craven and Swoon. And thanks to Dave for making his work available like this.
This is the video I made for “Goddess” by Cwtch, which is Marie Craven and Paul Foster. “Goddess” is a remix of my poem “For Gasoline” that appears in my book Highway Sky. Paul and Marie remixed it into a song along with a few others on their EP Chasing Headlights. So it is, as Marie described it, a remix of a remix or also to paraphrase her words, a conversation between artists on three continents. I like that.
It’s an odd thing for a poem to move like that from the screen during the mad rush of a napowrimo to the printed page, then to a song, a pair of videos one Spanish and one English by Eduardo Yagüe and Javi Zurrón that have been screened at venues around the world and now full circle (for now) with this music video offered back to Marie and Paul.
I love this. I love being part of this. I love the idea of the words being set free. We all read and listen to and watch other people’s work and walk away with wildly different ideas. I see this everyday in my classroom. We look at a poem and I am always surprised by what various students take away from it. What if everything were free for us to take that next step and not just think about or talk about what it means to us as individuals but to actually make something new and let it grow?
I am surprised that “For Gasoline” has traveled so far and in such surprising ways. I am so deeply honored and fortunate to have run into so many wonderful artists who have seen something in this little poem worthy of taking it on new trips.
“For Gasoline” (and all the poems in Highway Sky and on this site) is licensed under a creative commons by-nc-sa license and is therefore available for remix and interpretation. Feel free to join the conversation.
This is a video I made for Emily Dickinson’s “Aurora is the effort.” I stumbled on the Jupiter aurora footage at ESA/Hubble and wanted to do something with it. I had Dickinson on my mind since we share a birthday, and I often find myself turning to her work around this time of year, so I started searching for aurora-related Dickinson poems and liked this one for its simplicity and unusual syntax and wording. The sounds are radio static and me rubbing the strings and hitting the back of a bass guitar with some effects from garage band.
I’ve been wanting to do a Dickinson poem for years and even have a concept for another one that maybe someday will get done. Thanks for watching.
even in Austin
longing for Austin
–after Bashō (tr: Jane Reichhold)
slow school day
circles of green moss
over a decade old now
weeds between the stones
spring red bud
an open hand
fly toward the sunrise
A quick run-down of some recent publication announcements and other nice things. I’m happy to have had the following work published and recognized over the past month or so:
“Resolution” at Praxis Magazine
“The Singer” at One Sentence Poems
What Stranger Miracles (White Knuckle Press, 2016) reviewed and nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association
My thanks to the editors at Praxis, One Sentence Poems, and the Science Fiction Poetry Association for their interest in my work.
And, of course in case you missed it (and because I’m still over-the-moon about this), there’s Chasing Headlights, the EP from Cwtch (vocals: Marie Craven/music: Paul Foster). The lyrics are remixed from poems in my book Highway Sky (“God Bless Johnny Cash,” “For Gasoline,” “At Night,” and “Night at the Interstate Diner”):